Andy Weir

The Martian

The MartianBuy Now

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

About the Author

Andy Weir was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight. The Martian is his first novel.

8 Tips for Surviving on Mars from Andy Weir

So you want to live on Mars. Perhaps it’s the rugged terrain, beautiful scenery, or vast natural landscape that appeals to you. Or maybe you’re just a lunatic who wants to survive in a lifeless barren wasteland. Whatever your reasons, there are a few things you should know:

You’re going to need a pressure vessel.

Mars’s atmospheric pressure is less than one percent of Earth’s. So basically, it’s nothing. Being on the surface of Mars is almost the same as being in deep space. You better bring a nice, sturdy container to hold air in. By the way, this will be your home forever. So try to make it as big as you can.

You’re going to need oxygen.

You probably plan to breathe during your stay, so you’ll need to have something in that pressure vessel. Fortunately, you can get this from Mars itself. The atmosphere is very thin, but it is present and it’s almost entirely carbon dioxide. There are lots of ways to strip the carbon off carbon dioxide and liberate the oxygen. You could have complex mechanical oxygenators or you could just grow some plants.

You’re going to need radiation shielding

Earth’s liquid core gives it a magnetic field that protects us from most of the nasty crap the sun pukes out at us. Mars has no such luxury. All kinds of solar radiation gets to the surface. Unless you’re a fan of cancer, you’re going to want your accommodations to be radiation-shielded. The easiest way to do that is to bury your base in Martian sand and rocks. They’re not exactly in short supply, so you can just make the pile deeper and deeper until it’s blocking enough.

You’re going to need water.

Again, Mars provides. The Curiosity probe recently discovered that Martian soil has quite a lot of ice in it. About 35 liters per cubic meter. All you need to do is scoop it up, heat it, and strain out the water. Once you have a good supply, a simple distillery will allow you to reuse it over and over.

You’re going to need food.

Just eat Martians. They taste like chicken.

Oh, come on.

All right, all right. Food is the one thing you need that can’t be found in abundance on Mars. You’ll have to grow it yourself. But you’re in luck, because Mars is actually a decent place for a greenhouse. The day/night cycle is almost identical to Earth’s, which Earth plants evolved to optimize for. And the total solar energy hitting the surface is enough for their needs.

But you can’t just grow plants on the freezing, near-vacuum surface. You’ll need a pressure container for them as well. And that one might have to be pretty big. Just think of how much food you eat in a year and imagine how much space it takes to grow it.

Hope you like potatoes. They’re the best calorie yield per land area.

You’re going to need energy.

However you set things up, it won’t be a self-contained system. Among other things, you’ll need to deal with heating your home and greenhouse. Mars’s average daily temperature is -50C (-58F), so it’ll be a continual energy drain to keep warm. Not to mention the other life support systems, most notably your oxygenator. And if you’re thinking your greenhouse will keep the atmosphere in balance, think again. A biosphere is far too risky on this scale.

You’re going to need a reason to be there.

Why go out of your way to risk your life? Do you want to study the planet itself? Start your own civilization? Exploit local resources for profit? Make a base with a big death ray so you can address the UN while wearing an ominous mask and demand ransom? Whatever your goal is, you better have it pretty well defined, and you better really mean it. Because in the end, Mars is a harsh, dangerous place and if something goes wrong you’ll have no hope of rescue. Whatever your reason is, it better be worth it.

The Martian
The Martian: A Novel

I absolutely loved this book, and don't often read science fiction so I'm not sure what book to search for. Does anyone have a suggestion for a book to read that gives you similar feelings as "The Martian"?

I highly recommend Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson, which deals with spaceflight and has long passages explaining a lot of the science. It's got space, realistic science, humour, and nerdy characters, so I think you'll love it.

Jack Brady
I'm on page 24 and getting tired of the technical details... Will the whole book be like this?

No, probably half of the book covers Mark's challenges. At some point, the book starts shifting back and forth between Mark and other people. But if you don't like the "how does he solve these problems" part, you won't like the book.

I'm curious if NASA would ever send people to Mars? If they did, what would we be hoping to learn?

Mary Roach has a non-fiction book called Packing for Mars and its all about the various space-programs around the world and preparations they are making to eventually send astronauts there - its kinda quirky, but intriguing

Can anyone please tell me how much swearing is in here? I'm interested in this book, and would like to read it, but I'm a bit hesitant...

A LOT of swearing. Lots of f-bombs thrown around. Usually doesn't get worse than the f-bomb, but lots of other lower kinds of swearing too. But probably worth mentioning that characters rarely ever swear at each other.


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